Before coming to Detroit in March, 2009, Robert Bobb had just vacated the seat of President of the Washington, D.C. school board that he been elected to in 2006. Back then the shoe was on the other foot. Just as he was being seate4 newly elected Mayor Adrian Fenty engineered a takeover of the school board. Bobb fought for the independence of the board, as well as his own power. One headline in the Washington Post read “Bobb opposes Mayoral control of DC schools”, in marked contrast to his position in Detroit two years later. He even invoked voters rights as a reason for opposing mayoral control of the schools.

Two years before that, however, when his boss Mayor Williams wanted to take control of the schools, Bobb was helping him do so. Since Mayor Anthony Williams was in his last term and letting Bobb manage the City, this would have given Bobb effective control over the schools as well. The only consistent pattern in all of this is that Bobb took the public policy posture that been suited his personal power goals.

Control of the schools included control of $2.3 billion dollars in construction activity for the DC Public Schools. After pledging cooperation with newly elected Mayor Fenty, however, Bobb, then President of the School Board, tried to secretly arrange to kill Fenty’s takeover by having U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu block the authorizing legislation, since Congress still controlled the DC City Charter. When this was exposed, Bobb lost the fight and his fulItime job with McFarlane Associates, a major commercial developer that had supported the election of both Bobb and Fenty. He was thereafter dubbed “back door Bobb” in the press. (“A Civics Lesson for Schools to Skip.” Colbert I. King, Washington Post)

The school board had been attractive to Bobb in part because of the big construction contracts, an activity that has marked Bobb’s efforts in every city that he has worked in. With his reputation as a deal maker, the construction industry, real estate, banking, architecture and engineering interests bankrolled his campaign. He raised six times the amount of his nearest competitor, who was on City Council. In fact, most of his contributors gave the maximum allowable contribution, with relatively few small donors. A review of his donors shows that Bobb had only 70 donors who gave $50 or less, but 367 donors gave the $500 muimum, indicating Bobb’s real base of support were commercial interests far fromWashington, DC, not local taxpayers and parents seeking reform.

In one glaring example, the ThompsonCobb Bazilio & Associates (TCBA) accounting firm partners, relatives and a related corporation gave at least $12,250 to Bobb’s school board campaign. The related firm, DC Chartered Health, had as its sole client the Washington DC city government that Bobb was running. Their contract was for distributing Medicaid services, for which they earned very low performance ratings.

When Bobb took control of Detroit Public School finances, he gave TCBA three short term contracts worth $553,170, although they were actually paid$672,344-05. This despite the fact that there are many accounting firms in metro Detroit or Michigan that could have done this work.

Bobb also had several entities in the Philadelphia areathat put together 15 maximum donations for $7,500, even though they are all more than 100 miles from Washington, D.C., unusual fundraising for a school board seat. Two of the corporations involved had no corporate filings with the State of Pennsylvania.

One maximum contribution came from the firm that would later fire him, McFarlane Partners, but McFarlane interests made substantial contributions through indirect routes. McFarlane Partners is engaged in commercial real estate projects. Victor McFarlane, principal of McFarlane Partners of San Francisco, had a 25 percent interest in Forest City Enterprises, from which came $8,000 in maximum donations from employees and relatives in Ohio, California, Colorado and Maryland. There were no contributions in Victor McFarlane’s name.

Although the fight with the new Mayor was on over control of the D.C. school district, Bobb focused on his first priority – getting contracts approved. He and the superintendent bundled together a billion dollars in contracts within two months of Bobb taking office and tried without success to get the Mayor to approve them.

Bobb’s deal making in the nation’s capitol in prior years as Ctty Manager hit a snag in 2005 when the independent DC Auditor General found that Bobb had abused DC policies for four contracts that he arranged. Due to the billions that Granholm has given him control of over a two year period and the failure to vigorously monitor his activity to date, it is necessary to look at length how he operated in Washington, DC when he was given a free hand to run affairs in that city.

One contract was for an acquaintance from Oakland, California that was allowed to “begin rendering services to the District government based only on a verbal agreement, according to the AG report. Improper payments of $10,000 each were made without a contract in place, based on invoices that did not detail services rendered.

Another Oakland acquaintance was paid $26,500 without a written contract in three invoices split to avoid a $25,000 reporting requirement. There was no proposal outlining tasks and their projected costs and no justification for sole-sourcing the contract.

The same vendor was also given a $75,000 contract for developing a baseball stadium legislative

strategy activity. The Auditor General found that the contract was not in compliance with procurement practices and that Bobb’s statement of justification was “inaccurate.”

Jane Brunner was an Oakland, California City Council member who had supported Bobb when he was fired as City Manager there in 2003. She was given a confiact by Bobb to develop apprenticeship and pre apprenticeship programs for a Washington, D.C. baseball stadium construction project. These are services that the US Departrnent of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship provide for free. Yet Bobb gave her a $90,000 contract although he only had authority to approve confacts up to $25,000.

The AG found that there was circumvention of internal controls that were in place and an official flouting of procurement law, regulations and ethical standards.” Bobb was the sole signer on the contract.

Brunner also drafted a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) that was outside the scope of her contract. The actual PLA was found to have been a word-for-word plagiaization of an agreement draft that had been written by the area’s building trades council.

The AG concluded that “The City Administrator’s (Robert Bobb) action of identifying friends and associates, principally from Oakland, California for non-competitive, sole source ‘deals’ with the District govemment resulted in transactions that were not: “above reproach, arms length, completely impartial and free from the appearance of preferential treatment.”

DC Watch, a watchdog group, said that “Mayor Williams’ and Bobb’s response to the exposure has been arrogant defiance and promises of more of the same to come in the future.” They also noted that Bobb maintained investments, real estate and consulting firms in Oakland. Bobb told the local WTOP radio that “I make no apologies for it at all. None. Zero. Zilch.”

After Bobb left office, the Washington, D.C. Auditor General also found that Bobb collected a $31,200 “bonus” as he was leaving City government that was part of a pattern with others that violated a number of City rules. While he was City Manager during the last months of his administration, over $528,000 was spent on bonuses. Rules that were violated included limits on bonuses paid out improperly as amounts, requirements that the bonuses be tied to documentable performance and that they have proper approvals. Bobb’s unauthorized “bonus” was far higher than any other D.C. official.

The AG also found that Bobb allowed “bonuses” to be paid to l0 staff members based only on those employees’ opinion of their own work performance and that those bonuses equaled seven to eight percent of their salaries. Appended internal memoranda to the AG report stated that Bobb had approved 27 of 28 of the bonuses and that the payments were to be made expeditiously, as it was noted by the AG that many were leaving office. Bonuses, of course, are incentives to long term employees and are not to be used as parting gifts. One “bonus” of $15,600 was paid to an employee who had left city government, what Bobb in Detroit would have called a ghost employee. Although unnamed in the report, an accompanying table of the payouts shows that the ex-employee (or ghost employee) that received a govemment bonus after he left government was Robert Bobb.

As a result of the above abuses, the DC government rewrote the bonus pay process after

Bobb left.

Bobb was also found to have approved in September 2006 a request to allow a city appointee, E. Veronica Pace, to keep $75,000 in payroll overpayments that she was not entitled to. Rather than notify the city of the payroll error, Pace collected the excess pay for eight months and then asked Bobb to let her keep those uneamed payments. Two months later Bobb was overruled, with the notice that he did not have the authority to allow her to keep that money. (Washington Times, June 17, 2007)

Bobb was also a salesman for building a baseball stadium under terms that committed the residents of Washington, D.C. to pay $611 million in construction costs, a proposal he helped push through city council despite overwhelming voter opposition.

Bobb in Oakland

Robert Bobb was City Manager in Oakland California from November 17,1997 until he was fired by the Mayor on July 1,2003. The cause for firing was his campaigning for building a stadium for the Oakland Athletics baseball team, a project that the Mayor opposed. After the termination, he suggested in the media that the Athletics hire him, but no offer materialized. He then formed LAPA Group LLC as his private consulting company.

Bobb in Richmond

Prior to Oakland, Bobb was City Manager of Richmond, Virginia from July 1986 to November 1997. After he left city government his Robert Bobb Group became partner in a nearly one billion dollar construction project for Richmond that would include a baseball stadium. He was working this project while he was City Manager in Oaklan4 California. When he ran for office in2006 in Washington, D.C., a law frm in Richmond bundled $4,000 in contributions for his campaign for a school board seat over a hundred miles away.

Bobb in Santa Ana

Robert Bobb was hired in January 1984 as City Manager in Santa Ana, California and worked there until July 1986. He planned a major development project in downtown Santa Ana that was opposed by a real estate association and the UCLA School of Architecture, both of whom had been commissioned by the city to study the matter  (Project Set to Move Forward Despite Recommendations to Contrary; Santa Ana Appeqrs Set to Build Downtown Offices and Hotel, L.A. Times, 2-28-1985).

The Times also reported that Santa Ana had more construction projects than any City except San Diego and Los Angeles (Santa Ana’s Departing Manager Predicts Racial Tensions).

During Bobb’s tenure, citizens mounted an initiative to disband the City Manager position and restore a full time Mayor (Group Proposes Shake-Up in Santa Ana, Urges Vote, L.A. Times 12 28-1985). This focus on construction would mark Bobb’s career, including at Detroit Public Schools, where the new construction was not the priority as so many good buildings lay empty.

Bobb Schools With Broad

In 2005 Bobb underwent a ten month training program sponsored by the Edythe and Eli

Broad Foundation and was anointed a Broad Fellow. This was at a time when he had no

education background and was still City Manager in Washington, D.C. The foundation, based in Los Angeles, developed a program in 1999 targetrng public school districts. Because Broad trained Bobb and pays him $56,000 beyond his public salary, some understanding of Broad is needed to understand Bobb’s assignment over our school District.

Eli Broad made his billions by home building (Broad and Kaufrnan), starting in Michigan 50 years ago. He later moved to Los Angeles, got in the insurance business and retired. He set up foundations that helped spread his influence and wealth. In 1999, the year that then-Governor John Engler took over Defroit Public Schools, Broad set up a foundation to change public education, targeting public school districts.

On November 16, 2001, Broad and John Engler set up the Broad Center for Superintendents

(now the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems) in Washington, D.C. It was

announced in the U.S. Capitol Building, suggesting the ultimate target of political power that Broad was tying to reach. The goal of the Broad Center was to bring non-educators into leadership of school districts in order to restructure them. In2A02 the Broad Center launched the Broad Superintendent’s Academy to specifically target vulnerable urban districts.

In 2005 Robert Bobb graduated from the Broad Superintendent’s Academy while he was still a City Manager in Washington, D.C. When Governor Jennifer Granholm was in Washington, D.C. for the January 20, 2009 presidential inauguration, she met Bobb at the recommendation of Eli Broad and began the process that resulted in his selection.

Since his hire in Detroit, the Broad Foundation has been paying Bobb to carry out its agenda and DPS has being paylng some costs of bringing Broad Foundation staff to work on temporary assignment in Detroit, according to contacts and reports on the DPS and Broad websites.

Bobb received $28,000 directly from Broad in his first year at DPS, plus up to $15,000 in moving expenses. In the second year contract Bobb was paid $56,000 by the Los Angeles foundation. All of this was approved by the Governor, whose office actually assisted in identifying funders for Bobb’s paycheck, according to interoffice emails from the Governor’s office.

The idea that public offrcials are partially paid by private parties who seek to influence officials to use public positions to serve their private ends is boldly unethical. At the federal level, such a contract is felonious. If private groups have a compelling agenda that serves the public interest, they do not have to pay officials to implement their recommendations. In the case of Broad their policies are clearly contrary to the stimulation of a more robust Detroit Public School system.

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